Reliable Robotics, a leader in autonomous aircraft systems, has announced it was approved to participate in the 2024 AFWERX Tactical Funding Increase (TACFI) programme for the United States Department of the Air Force (USAF).

TACFI is designed to “bridge the capability gap” between current Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) efforts to facilitate the delivery of strategic capabilities for the Department of the Air Force. Reliable was competitively chosen for award from a large list of providers during the funding evaluation.

“The TACFI Programme is a valuable funding mechanism to bolster SBIR projects and its application to autonomy development unlocks significant product acceleration, maturation and demonstration of operationally relevant mission sets,” said Lt Col Bryan Ralston, Autonomy Prime Branch Chief. “Autonomy is a key enabler for future military tactical air dominance and forward basing operations.”

TACFI selection and Reliable’s follow-on Phase III SBIR contract both extend and continue Reliable’s previous Phase II contract. These contract efforts will further Reliable’s ongoing collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and AFWERX which includes:

  • Demonstration of flexible remote piloting capabilities at McClellan Airfield during the recent AGILE FLAG exercise
    Military Airworthiness approval for autonomous flight testing and operational missions of Reliable’s Cessna 208 Caravan for the U.S. Air Force
    A large aircraft automation study to adapt Reliable’s autonomous flight system for airframes such as the KC-135
    Demonstration of autonomous flight at Travis Air Force base for distinguished military personnel as part of the Golden Phoenix exercise
    Completion of Phase I and Phase II SBIR contracts

“TACFI funding is an important milestone signifying our autonomous flight system is moving forward toward operational implementation,“ said Dr. David O’Brien, Major General (Ret.), and Senior Vice President of Government Solutions at Reliable Robotics. “Reliable is laser-focused on U.S. leadership in aviation and delivering the Air Force unrivaled automation capabilities for multiple aircraft types within existing inventory, in reduced crew, and crewless modes to defeat any threat, at any time, anywhere on earth.”

Reliable’s Dual-use Autonomous Flight System

Reliable Robotics has developed a dual-use solution to convert existing commercial airframes such as the Cessna 208B Caravan with autonomous flight systems, which can be configured for logistics and defence

Automated aircraft, specifically cargo aircraft, provide mission-critical opportunities that can increase aircraft utilization, operational range, and save military lives, while improving the pilot pipeline, and facilitating new operating concepts that could enhance survivability in contested airspace.

The USAF and other military branches will be able to take advantage of autonomy at fractional pricing compared to technology developed exclusively for the military.Subscribe to the FINN weekly newsletter